Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Enchantment of Life

David Klinghoffer's new article, The Enchantment of Life...

Our increasingly secularized world is one where the sense of enchantment is diminishing very rapidly.

By enchantment I mean our intuitive sense that something else, something more, lies behind and somehow all around the fa├žade of ordinary material reality. Darwinism is not just a scientific theory, with its Tree of Life and its proposed mechanism that explains how one form of life transforms unguided into another. It is that, but more importantly it is a picture of reality. It is a whole worldview that seeks to explain all the beauty and wonder of life by reference exclusively to blind, churning, purposeless, mindless, meaningless natural forces. It excludes all enchantment.

The phrase goes back to Max Weber who taught about it dispassionately: "The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by the 'disenchantment of the world.' Precisely the ultimate and most sublime values have retreated from public life either into the transcendental realm of mystic life or into the brotherliness of direct and personal human relations." That was in a lecture he gave, "Science as a Vocation," in 1918. Since then, the sense that life is pervaded by secrets has retreated even further, with heartbreaking results…

As with physical diseases, the spiritual disease of disenchantment builds in its effect. Its power is cumulative as, leech-like, it sucks the mystery out of life. Liberal religious strains seek to accommodate rather than fight it, fearing it will get worse if opposed, but that only gives the leech encouragement. This is one problem with accommodationist strategies like "theistic evolution." In the context of alcohol or drug addiction, they would be called forms of co-dependency.

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